Alcohol Testing – EtG
There are several kinds of substance testing, one of which is alcohol and EtG testing. These types of tests can be used by employers, individuals, and even for legal purposes. Let's break alcohol testing down more.
The Types of Alcohol Testing
Alcohol testing includes urine alcohol testing and the breath alcohol test. Urine alcohol tests are inexpensive, easy to conduct, and typically go back 36 hours, making them a viable option for personal uses, like parents wanting to determine if their child consumed alcohol, as well as legal ones, like probation alcohol testing.
However, standard urine alcohol testing may not be best suited for workplace testing. The challenge is that a positive urine alcohol test is not indicative of current alcohol impairment nor does it definitively indicate beverage alcohol consumption. Also, it's difficult to relate the urine concentration of alcohol to the legal benchmark, which is blood alcohol.
For workplace clients who wish to determine impairment or the prohibited use of alcohol, US Drug Test Centers recommends breath alcohol testing.
Breath Alcohol Test
As we said, for employer workplace testing, alcohol should be tested for using a breath alcohol test, as it determines current impairment. Here's how this test works. When alcohol hits your stomach, it's absorbed into your blood that is eventually carried to other parts of your body, including your lungs. Alcohol is eventually exhaled through the breath. Ultimately, this test measures how much alcohol is in a person's breath, therefore indirectly measuring how much alcohol is in a person's blood, known as their blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The test is performed by a trained breath alcohol technician (BAT) using an Evidential Breath Testing (EBT) device.
Breath alcohol tests are suitable for:
- Personal uses
- Legal uses (probation, child custody, etc.)
- DOT-regulated businesses and individuals
DOT-regulated employers must use breath alcohol testing for compliance with DOT alcohol testing requirements.
There is a one-to-one correlation between a breath alcohol level and a blood alcohol level. An individual at a 0.08% blood alcohol level will be at a 0.08% breath alcohol level. The Department of Transportation looks for BAT results of 0.02 or less. If you blow higher than that, what happens next depends on your specific agency. For instance:
- The FMCSA will not allow you to resume safety-sensitive functions for 24 hours
- The FRA will not allow you to resume safety-sensitive functions for eight hours
- Both the FTA and PHMSA will not allow you back to work until your next scheduled day and no less than eight hours from the time you took your test
- The FAA allows employers to bring you back to work within eight hours
EtG Alcohol Testing
Ethanol — commonly called ethyl alcohol, drinking alcohol, or simply alcohol — is the principal type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts. EtG is a direct metabolite of alcohol. EtG alcohol testing screens for the presence of EtG in urine and hair. This may be used to determine recent ethanol ingestion, even after ethanol is no longer measurable in the body. EtG is only evident when ethanol is ingested and is not produced as a result of fermentation.
In addition to EtG, recent scientific studies have identified ethyl sulfate (EtS) as a second specific metabolite or biomarker of ethanol.
While EtG alcohol testing is not appropriate for workplace drug testing as it doesn't detect current impairment or prove current consumption of alcohol during hours, it does have many other uses, including:
- Monitoring alcohol abstinence for probation programs
- Court-ordered cases
- Child custody cases
- Drug court cases
- DWI cases
- Other situations where the person is absolutely prohibited from consuming any alcohol
US Drug Test Centers conducts EtG alcohol testing using urine and hair.
EtG Urine Drug Testing
The presence of EtG in urine is an indicator that ethanol was ingested. It can be detected in urine for up to 80 hours after ingestion. This type of test has become very popular for zero-tolerance and abstinence programs.
EtG Hair Drug Testing
A hair EtG test will show the consumption of any alcohol within the past seven to 90 days. Therefore, it's an indicator of a behavioral issue – not current impairment. Many court-ordered testings are now requiring the hair EtG alcohol test to help determined patterned uses of alcohol consumption.
The detection of EtG in hair as a measure of chronic excessive alcohol consumption (as supported by the Society of Hair Testing) has become more prevalent in the drug and alcohol testing industry in the past decade. This is because all foreign substances, regardless of their nature, become embedded and remain in the hair for a long time.